It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you, No. 7

In Episode No. 5 of the Paranoia, I highlighted the story of Jesselyn Radack as told by Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side, in her July 14, 2008 interview, Six Questions for Jane Mayer, Author of The Dark Side, with Scott Horton at No Comment. Ms. Radack wrote about her experience in The Canary in the Coal Mine.

In this interview with Bill Moyers about her book, Ms. Mayer continues to provide material for this series:

BILL MOYERS: Who were some of the other conservative heroes, as you call them, in your book?

JANE MAYER: A lot of them are lawyers. And they were people inside the Justice Department who, one of whom, and I can’t name this one in particular, said when he looked around at some of the White House meetings – he was in where they were authorizing the President, literally, to torture people – if he thought that was necessary, he said, “I can’t, I could not believe these lunatics had taken over the country.” And I am not talking about someone who is a liberal Democrat. I’m talking about a very conservative member of this Administration. And there was a-

BILL MOYERS: Your source?

JANE MAYER: My source.

BILL MOYERS: And, yet, when these conservatives – as you write in your book – when these conservatives spoke up, Cheney and company retaliated against their own men.

JANE MAYER: People told me, “You can’t imagine what it was like inside the White House during this period.” There was such an atmosphere of intimidation. And when the lawyers, some of these lawyers tried to stand up to this later, they felt so endangered in some ways that, at one point, two of the top lawyers from the Justice Department developed this system of talking in codes to each other because they thought they might be being wiretapped. And they even felt-

BILL MOYERS: By their own government.

JANE MAYER: By their own government. They felt like they might be kind of weirdly in physical danger. They were actually scared to stand up to Vice President Cheney.

Full transcript here.

These attorneys were right to be frightened of Vice President Cheney. Just ask Harry Whittington.

H/t ThinkProgress via WriteChicPress

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you, No. 6

At No Comment, Scott Horton continues with his stellar reporting on the politicization of, and abuse of power in, the Department of Justice with this July 23, 2008 post of his Six Questions for Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, Author of In Justice. Mr. Iglesias. one of the United States Attorneys fired by DoJ on December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day – of 2007, explains, in a nutshell, what happened:

One cannot fully comprehend the recent Justice Department meltdown without understanding the belief in New Mexico, Missouri, and Washington State Republican circles, that the 2000 election and subsequent contests were rife with fraud. It set the stage for what followed during the scandal surrounding the forced resignations in 2006 of United States Attorneys John McKay of Seattle, Todd Graves of Kansas City, and me. We were all criticized by Republican operatives for not filing voter or election fraud cases in our respective districts. Each of us examined the evidence and did not find any provable cases, so no indictments were filed. I remember hearing Republican activists allege that the Democrats stole the election in New Mexico during the 2000 presidential election. I heard that illegal immigrants were voting in large numbers. If true this would be criminal, but prosecutors may not base their cases on rumor and innuendo but on admissible evidence they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. * * *

Voter fraud became the bogeyman of New Mexico politics. And what person was best equipped to prevent this alleged problem from happening again? The United States Attorney. Hence in the summer of 2002 the Executive Office of United States Attorney in Washington emailed all 93 U.S. Attorneys asking us to work with state and local election officials to prevent election fraud. * * * That changed dramatically in 2004, when the local media covered numerous instances of apparent voter fraud. * * *

In response, I set up one of only two election fraud task forces in the country. * * *

I also set up a hotline for citizens to call into the local FBI office. I believed that we would find provable cases of fraud that I could prosecute, and I was determined to find them. * * * After almost two years of investigation, we were unable to come up with a single prosecutable case. I conferred with main Justice and with the local FBI office. It was ultimately my call, and I followed the professional staff in finding that there wasn’t enough evidence to support a prosecution. Main Justice and the FBI did not disagree with my assessment.

But local Republican leaders disagreed. They could not believe that the investigation failed to produce a prosecution. During the 2004-06 time period, Rumaldo Armijo and I received numerous phone calls and emails from former state G.O.P. counsel Patrick Rogers. He exhorted us to file cases. We could only tell him what we would tell any member of the public–that we would file provable cases and even then, we would not file a case just before an election if we felt it could affect the outcome of the election. This was policy of the Justice Department, per career attorney Craig Donsanto, who wrote the election fraud manual that all U.S. attorneys used. Significantly, Rogers never told Armijo or me that he was also an official of a group called the American Center for Voting Rights—a G.O.P. organization alleged to be engaged in voter suppression efforts. I did not find this important fact until after I left the Justice Department. I knew Rogers to be involved in the litigation over the voter I.D. law and knew him to be a fiercely partisan Republican. In 2006, I heard from a friend of mine who was active in the state party that the party was upset with me. At one point he implored me, “can’t you file something?” So I heard the rumbling of the party in the 2005-06 timeframe.

I was aware of the simmering discontent of the local Republicans. Just before the 2006 midterm election that discontent boiled over when I received a highly improper phone call from Congresswoman Heather Wilson in mid-October and another call from Senator Pete Domenici in late October. * * * Both Wilson and Domenici were talking about the same investigation. Wilson had used her opponent’s weak record in pursuing corruption cases as part of her attack strategy. I knew that if I told them I was close to indicting the case that would be used by Wilson in connection with her election campaign. I also knew they had no legitimate need to know when I would be filing the indictments. I was put on the list to be fired on November 7, 2006—Election Day. The timeline alone is damning and it was clear to me that I was placed on the list because I would not rush an indictment of a high-profile Democrat in a way that would benefit Wilson in her campaign. * * *

As Mr. Horton notes in his introduction,

His meteoric career is not simply the stuff of movies–after all, some of David Iglesias’s experiences as a Navy JAG at Guantánamo Bay furnished the material for Aaron Sorkin’s play “A Few Good Men,” later converted into a Hollywood blockbuster. (Italics in original.)

Even a stellar career in the Navy that is ‘the stuff of movies’ followed by six (6) years of public service as a United States Attorney was not sufficient to insulate Mr. Iglesias from the Bush administration. And throughout this whole sordid affair, Mr. Iglesias has maintained his professionalism, demonstrated his strength of character and, as a result, provides a model of conduct to which all attorneys should strive to emulate.

Read the rest of the interview here .

Buy David Iglesias’ book In Justice: Inside the Scandal That Rocked the Bush Administration.

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you, No. 5

In his July 14, 2008 No Comment post, Six Questions for Jane Mayer, Author of The Dark Side, Scott Horton introduces his interview with Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side:

In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public. In a new book, The Dark Side, Mayer puts together the major conclusions from her articles and fills in a number of important gaps. Most significantly, we learn the details on the torture techniques and the drama behind the fierce and lingering struggle within the administration over torture, and we learn that many within the administration recognized the potential criminal accountability they faced over these torture tactics and moved frantically to protect themselves from possible future prosecution. I put six questions to Jane Mayer on the subject of her book, The Dark Side. (italics in original)

In the interview, Ms. Mayer describes yet another instance in which the Bush administration has retaliated against someone who dared raise a voice in dissent:

[Horton:] You spend more time showing how the torture process compromised lawyers than how it compromised health care professionals. One of the more revealing cases involves Jessica (sic) Radack, a young career attorney in the Justice Department’s Honors Program, who dispensed ethics advice concerning plans for the interrogation of John Walker Lindh. It seems that her advice was contrary to the ethical views of senior Bush Administration lawyers, and you note that when a federal judge demanded to see the internal Department of Justice records relating to the matter, all of Radack’s emails, including the advice actually dispensed, had been deleted and the hard copies removed, and none of this was furnished to the court. Did the Justice Department ever undertake an internal probe into the obstruction?

[Mayer:] Radack was in some ways an early guinea pig showing how high the costs were for anyone—including administration lawyers—who dissented from the Bush Administration’s determination to rewrite the rules for the treatment of terrorists. Her job in the department was to give ethical advice. She was asked whether an FBI officer in Afghanistan could interrogate John Walker Lindh and use his statements against him in any future trial. By the time she was asked this, however, as she knew, Lindh’s father had already hired a lawyer to represent him. So she concluded that it would not be proper for the FBI to question him outside the presence of his counsel.

To her amazement, the FBI agent went ahead and did so anyway, and then the prosecutors in the Justice Department proceeded to use Lindh’s statements against him in their criminal prosecution. She told me, “It was like ethics were out the window. After 9/11, it was, like, ‘anything goes’ in the name of terrorism. It felt like they’d made up their minds to get him, regardless of the process.” Radack believed that the role of the ethics office was to “rein in the cowboys” whose zeal to stop criminals sometimes led them to overstep legal boundaries. “But after 9/11 we were bending ethics to fit our needs,” she said. “Something wrong was going on. It wasn’t just fishy—it stank.”

What happened next was truly scary. She tried to ensure that a judge overseeing the case, who asked for all information regarding the Department’s handling of Lindh, was given the full record, including her own contrary advice. But instead, she said she found that her superiors at Justice sent the judge only selective portions of the record, excluding her contrary opinion. Her case files, she said, were tampered with, and documents missing. Among the senior Justice Department officials who were sent her files, she said was Alice Fisher, a deputy to Michael Chertoff who followed him as head of the Department’s Criminal Division.

Radack complained about what she thought were serious omissions of the record being withheld from the judge. Within weeks of disagreeing with the top Justice Department officials, Radack went from having been singled out for praise, to being hounded out of the department. Radack got a job in private practice, but after her story appeared in Newsweek, with copies of some of her emails, the Justice Department opened a leak investigation. The U.S. Attorney then opened a criminal investigation. Radack has since become an advocate for whistle-blowers’ rights. But the episode served as a warning to anyone in the government who stood in the way of the so-called, “New Paradigm.” It is unclear to me what sort of investigation, if any, there has been of this case, including of the potential obstruction. (emphasis supplied)

Read the rest of the interview here.

Update: Prof. David Luban, who blogs at Balkinzation, notes by e-mail that Jesselyn Radack wrote about this experience in The Canary in the Coal Mine, which is available for purchase here.

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you, No. 4

h/t: Nonnie at Hysterical Raisins, via e-mail, and Roger Shuler at Legal Schnauzer

In her July 11, 2008 Raw Story article Alabama US Attorney denies any involvement in university editor’s termination, Lindsay Beyerstein shines light on the political firing of blogger Roger Shuler by the University of Alabama Birmingham for blogging:

The abrupt dismissal of a veteran University of Alabama employee who blogged about the firing of seven US Attorneys has added a bizarre new twist to allegations that the state’s US Attorneys targeted political opponents for prosecution.

Roger Shuler — a high-profile blogger and leading critic of Alabama’s judicial system — has written extensively about alleged corruption among U.S. Attorneys for over a year. In particular, Shuler focused on two US Attorneys from his home state: Alice H. Martin of the Northern District and Leura G. Canary of the Middle District.

An editor in the University of Alabama Birmingham publications office for the last 12 years and a university employee for 19, Shuler was placed on administrative leave May 7 and formally fired May 19.

“I had worked there for 19 years and never received anything but positive performance reviews,” Schuler [sic] wrote RAW STORY in May. “I never received an oral warning about anything. Then I was fired without warning, contrary to university policy and almost certainly in violation of federal law.”

Though he admits he can’t prove it, Shuler believes that he was fired for criticizing Alice Martin and other high-ranking political players in Alabama, including Canary, and Alabama’s Republican governor, Bob Riley.

He’s not alone. Scott Horton, a journalist for Harper’s Magazine and a professor at Columbia University who has written extensively about the US Attorney scandal, also believes Shuler’s firing was politically fueled.

“Shuler’s problem arose not because he blogged nor because he did so from his workplace, because it’s clear he didn’t,” says Horton, who has been following both the Siegelman and Shuler’s cases closely. “His problem came from the fact that he wrote critical, well received insights targeting a number of very powerful figures in Alabama, starting with U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and prominent Republicans with which she is aligned, and including a number of major figures in the Alabama media.”

These allegations are just the introduction to the article. Beyerstein follows with the details that back up these allegations in the remainder of Alabama US Attorney denies any involvement in university editor’s termination .

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you, No. 3

h/t: Capt at Alternate Reality , mdking at Writechic Press and Roger Shuler at Legal Schnauzer

In their May 1, 2008 Raw Story article Break-ins plague targets of US Attorneys, Larisa Alexandrovna, Muriel Kane and Lindsay Beyerstein report on the troubles that seem to befall people that don’t toe the Republican party line. In addition to the house fire and automobile accident suffered by Dana Jill Simpson and the burglary of the office of Don Siegelman’s lawyer, Susan James, as Scott Horton previously noted, Alexandrovna, Kane and Beyerstein and the stories of five other people associated with the Siegelman matter and two other federal cases.

In Alabama, for instance, the home of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman was burglarized twice during the period of his first indictment. Nothing of value was taken, however, and according to the Siegelman family, the only items of interest to the burglars were the files in Siegelman’s home office.

Siegelman’s attorney [Susan James ] experienced the same type of break-in at her office.

In neighboring Mississippi, a case brought against a trial lawyer and three judges raises even more disturbing questions. Of the four individuals in the same case, three of the US Attorney’s targets were the victims of crimes during their indictment or trial. This case, like that of Governor Siegelman, has been widely criticized as a politically motivated prosecution by a Bush US Attorney.

The main target of the indictment, attorney Paul Minor, had his office broken into, while Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, Oliver E. Diaz Jr., had his home burglarized. According to police reports and statements from Diaz and from individuals close to Minor, nothing of value was taken and the burglars only rummaged through documents and in Minor’s case, also took a single computer from an office full of expensive office equipment.

The incidents are not limited to burglaries. In Mississippi, former Judge John Whitfield was the victim of arson at his office. In Alabama, the whistleblower in the Don Siegelman case, Dana Jill Simpson, had her home burned down, and shortly thereafter her car was allegedly forced off the road.

While there is no direct evidence linking these crimes to the US Attorneys’ office targeting these individuals, or to the Bush administration, there is a distinct pattern that makes it highly unlikely that these incidents are isolated and unrelated.

All of these crimes remain unsolved.

These allegations are just the introduction to the article. Alexandrovna, Kane and Beyerstein follow with the details that back up these allegations in the remainder of Break-ins plague targets of US Attorneys .

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you, No. 2

From Scott Horton at Harper’s:

Seems that people who raise their voice in support of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman are often the victims of unfortunate accidents. Ask Dana Jill Simpson, the Rainsville Republican lawyer who notes that as soon as she told some friends that she had resolved to file an affidavit exposing what was going on in the Siegelman case, unfortunate accidents started happening. Like a fire at her home, and a brush with a motor vehicle operated by an off-duty law enforcement officer that resulted in her car being totaled. Well, maybe these were just accidents. In fact, Simpson seems convinced they were. But it’s clear that she has some vague and lingering doubts.

And then, following the sentencing phase of the Siegelman trial, his lawyer, Susan James, reports that her office was ransacked. These weren’t your ordinary vandals, it seems. They left computers, television sets, champagne and bottles of alcohol untouched. And they focused with laser-like intensity on her client files.

Full article here.

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you

The Washington Post’s Dan Eggen reported yesterday that

A federal grand jury in Alexandria has issued a subpoena seeking information about the confidential sources of a newspaper journalist who wrote in a 2006 book about alleged CIA efforts to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program.

The Jan. 24 subpoena ordered the reporter, James Risen of the New York Times, to appear before the grand jury next Thursday, said David N. Kelley, Risen’s attorney. Kelley, a former U.S. attorney in New York, said Risen plans to resist the order.

Glenn Greenwald then correctly described Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s involvement and the dangers presented by this tactic:

Although there are still facts missing — such as whether this Subpoena was actually approved by Mukasey rather than Gonzales — it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Grand Jury Subpoena was done at least with Mukasey’s assent. It seems rather clearly to signify the intent of his Justice Department to more aggressively pursue reporters who disclose information embarrassing to the President.

It’s hard to overstate how threatening this behavior is. The Bush administration has erected an unprecedented wall of secrecy around everything it does. Beyond illegal spying, if one looks at the instances where we learned of lawbreaking and other forms of lawless radicalism — CIA black sites, rendition programs, torture, Abu Ghraib, pre-war distortion of intelligence, destruction of CIA torture videos — it is, in every case, the by-product of two forces: government whistleblowers and reporters willing to expose it.

Grand Jury Subpoenas such as the one issued to Risen have as their principal purpose shutting off that avenue of learning about government wrongdoing — the sole remaining avenue for a country plagued by a supine, slothful, vapid press and an indescribably submissive Congress. Mukasey has quickly demonstrated that he has no interest in investigating and pursuing lawbreaking by high government officials, but now, he (or at least the DOJ he leads) seems to be demonstrating something even worse: a burgeoning interest in investigating and pursuing those who expose such governmental lawbreaking and turning those whistleblowers and investigative journalists into criminals.

This is yet another example of this administration improperly using the force of law, i.e., investigation, prosecution and jailing of its critics, to cover its track. Risen is on his way to being Siegelmanned, which is exactly what I’m trying to avoid by remaining anonymous. Especially since I don’t have the resources of Simon & Schuster available to me like Risen does.

Greenwald added this in an update:

An emailer sums up the situation nicely:

So, let me see if I get this straight. The Congress issues subpoenas to former [and current] Bush officials to testify about administration conduct. Said officials ignore the subpoenas. Nothing happens.

Administration, via grand jury, issues subpoena, Risen is threatened with jail.

What’s wrong with this picture?

That’s rather accurate.

This is one of the few points from Greenwald with which I disagree. Anyone, whether a resident of Texas or not, can file a grievance against Harriet E. Miers. Furthermore, if you are an attorney licensed by the Texas Bar Association, you have an ethical obligation to report misconduct. Rule 8.03 Reporting Professional Misconduct, Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (large .pdf file).

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